‘Challenge Networks’ bringing benefits to bees and business in Cornwall

Businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have joined forces with experts at SWEEP and the University of Exeter to pioneer business-led solutions to the pollinator decline problem.

Facilitated by the Tevi (Cornish for ‘grow’) project, forward-thinking businesses including the Lost Gardens of Heligan, have been developing ways to solve global environmental challenges.

Pollinators such as bees are responsible for pollinating the majority of wildflowers and a large proportion of crops, keeping our environment healthy, our human population healthy and our economy healthy. However, there is worldwide scientific consensus that wild pollinators are in decline.

Experts at the University of Exeter, are committed to finding long-term solutions to enhance pollinators and their habitats by collaborating with businesses, landowners, governmental organisations and conservationists. During 2019, the Tevi Challenge Network brought together key experts and innovative businesses to find solutions to the main driver of pollinator declines- habitat loss.

 A report launched on the 2nd July at an online event opened by broadcaster Gillian Burke showcased why and how local businesses have been creating much needed flower-rich habitats for pollinators whilst exploring new business opportunities around local wildflower seed products and services. These businesses include the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Trelonk and Gardens of Eden UK.

Alasdair Moore is the Head of Gardens and Estate at the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Alasdair’s vision of creating a large-scale source of Cornish provenance wildflower seed products was realised. In 2019 a 11.5 acre (15 football pitches) meadow of poppies, cornflowers, corn marigolds and corn chamomile was cultivated to attract visitors and revenue, share information about wildflowers and pollinators, produce a crop for sale and act as an example for the potential of wildflower seed.

‘Cornwall’s biggest industry is tourism … make Cornwall the most beautiful, wildflower laden, glorious place to visit in the country.’ Alasdair Moore, The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Zac Harris started Gardens of Eden UK, his independent garden design and creation business in Cornwall specialising in edible and ecological garden design and is passionate about using his skills to help tackle some of the current threats to society and biodiversity. Zac uses the latest research to guide his practises and creating gardens for human health and wildlife.

‘I want Gardens of Eden to use man made ecosystems to provide a sustainable alternative to some of today’s contemporary issues.’ Zac Harris, Gardens of Eden UK

Adam Parnall is Director and Farm Manager at Trelonk; a historic estate on the Roseland. He took control of the estate in 2018, which is situated within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and was very keen to reduce chemical usage to restore the farm’s historical beauty. He seeks cutting-edge science to inform a “progressive, regenerative, creative” approach to land management, whilst remaining a firmly practical man. Over 150 acres (210 football pitches) were grown and harvested with sunflower, borage and calendula (marigold) for seed to press into oil for the nutraceuticals market.

‘It was just an incredible sight – 20 acres of borage in full flower. And the wildlife … you’ve never seen so many bees and butterflies in all your life – just incredible.’ Adam Parnall, Trelonk

Over the last 18 months, this Challenge Network has been run as a pilot; an example of how to facilitate the collective working of businesses for both economic and environmental growth. A range of experts including Professor Stefano Pascucci and Dr Grace Twiston-Davies from the Environment and Sustainability Institute on Penryn Campus have been involved in the network. Together with 38 businesses, they have been developing and running workshops and hosting one-to-one business mentoring. The key findings of the Challenge Network have been summarised in a report for business and policymakers with key case studies to inform recommendations for business and policy to find local solutions to a global problem.

The report summarises current scientific knowledge of pollinator declines, overall business response to the problem and the increasing role of collaboration in facilitating appropriate, coordinated and successful action. This report was created as a collaboration between Tevi and the South West Partnership for Environmental and Economic Prosperity (SWEEP) projects and ecological consultant Kay Kahane and business sustainability consultant Hugh St Aubyn.

Tevi is a collaborative project between the University of Exeter, Cornwall Council, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Cornwall Development Company with the aim to simultaneously create both economic and environmental growth in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The Tevi Challenge Network on Local Seed for Plants, Pollinators and People is a regional collaboration launched in early 2019 to facilitate innovative business-led solutions to mitigate against the main causes of the pollinator decline problem on a regional scale.

Download the Testing business-led solutions to the pollinator decline problem on a regional scale report

Exploring business-led solutions to the pollinator decline problem


For more information see www.tevi.co.uk/



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